Despite digital marketing’s dominance in today’s marketing mix, printed materials continue to play a vital role for end-product manufacturers. From product manuals, operating procedures and material safety data sheets, to price books and hang tags – there are certain applications that demand printed materials.
Consider certain environments as well, like a hospital room or a construction site where an end user may need to quickly look up safety procedures or regulatory guidelines. Print materials offer easy access to this kind of on-demand information, particularly when a tablet, laptop or Internet connection may not be available.
If you are a manufacturer serving numerous distributors, dealers or end-customers, you understand the importance and the challenges of delivering accurate and up-to-date printed materials, to the correct user, with only the information related to their specific needs.
Whether your primary role is marketing, product management or operations, chances are you’ve encountered one or more challenges related to print material production and distribution—from the intricacies of versioning, customization and content updates, to kitting and distribution.
Here are some ideas on how to overcome these challenges and ensure your printed materials are distributed correctly to the right user.
1. MULTIPLE VERSIONS OF MANUALS AND PRICE BOOKS
Vya works with a manufacturer whose building products are sold through a variety of stores and distributors, not all of which carry their entire product line. So the manufacturer provides a unique set of product manuals and price books for each location, based solely on the products sold in each store.
In a situation like this, multiple files need to be managed and updates are often made at the last minute, like single pages that need to be replaced on the fly within the production process. Technology certainly plays a role. But it is also crucial to have a point-person managing your print materials who is knowledgeable about your organization and knows your print jobs. This human touch ensures the process can be interrupted when needed without disrupting or derailing your entire job.
2. MULTIPLE VERSIONS OF HANG TAGS
Another manufacturing client we work with sells its power equipment products through a large nationwide network of distributor groups. Each of these groups offers different types of products, sometimes based on regional needs. For example, in the south they don’t generally carry products for snow clearing, while those items would be a seasonal staple up north. In this way, each store has uniquely printed sell sheets or hang tags for the products they carry.
In addition, there can be variations in pricing and features for different user groups down to the store level.
This is where a web-based marketing resource management system with customizable templates works well in handling multiple versions. It can even be set up to enable direct approval and printing of materials.
3. CUSTOMIZATION & RELEVANCE OF MATERIAL SAFETY DATA SHEETS
Material safety data sheets are often required for compliance purposes. While you want to make sure all users receive these all-important materials, sending all sheets to all end users creates waste. What’s more, users are less likely to read them if they have to sift through materials that don’t pertain to them.
As a manufacturer, you need to be able to send only the sheets for the products that actually apply to the specific user. In this situation, look for a partner that can not only help with customizing and producing your print materials, but one that can also manage your inventory to ensure the correct users get the correct materials.
4. KITTING AND DISTRIBUTION
Sometimes individual pieces need to be assembled and packaged for promotions. This could include manuals, related flyers, hang tags with updated pricing, rebate pads, etc. Once again, the goal is to make sure each individual in the user network receives the proper set of materials. It’s also important to have effective tracking to be sure the package gets there on time.
Work with a partner that can provide a dedicated representative who knows what you need. Also make sure they have the facilities and equipment to accommodate the warehousing and production involved with assembling and packaging materials for distribution.
INVEST IN EFFECTIVE PRINT MATERIALS MANAGEMENT
Print materials management might just be one of the unsung heroes of local marketing. Without the proper systems, processes and oversight, your field performance will surely suffer.
Your dealers, distributors and end users are counting on you to help them sell and use your products. You’ll find that if you invest in the right technology and enlist the help of an experienced partner to ensure accurate, relevant and up-to-date printed materials are delivered to the correct user, your local marketing programs will more than pay you back.